By Annie Sweeney
The Chicago Sun-Times
As she sat in the emergency room Tuesday evening grieving for her little boy, all LaToyia Parker wanted to know was the truth: Who would shoot a 6-year-old in the mouth?
'WE HAVE TO PULL TOGETHER'
The difficult answer was that her son, Jaylen, had shot himself after getting hold of her mother's gun - the gun her mother used as a Cook County correctional officer. The story emerged in the emergency room of University of Chicago Hospitals after Parker held her son close and said goodbye and then had a chance to speak with her mom and police.
"I looked at her and I said, 'Tell me the truth,'" Parker said Wednesday evening.
After hearing what happened, Parker fought through her despair and offered words of comfort to her mother.
"She was falling apart," Parker said. "I tried to assure her it wasn't her fault. We have to pull together. We've got to hold each other up right now."
REASSIGNED TO DESK DUTY
Andrea Parker, a Cook County correctional officer since 1989, was charged Wednesday with reckless conduct, police said. Parker, 47, of Calumet City, has been stripped of her badge and gun and will be reassigned to desk duty pending a sheriff's department investigation, spokeswoman Sally Daly said.
Daly said the gun should have been secured either in a lockbox or with a trigger lock.
LaToyia Parker said her mother picked up Jaylen - whose formal name is Demarcius Jaylen Parker - and his 3-year-old brother, Francisco, every day from school. Jaylen attended St. Columbanus at 7120 S. Calumet, and Francisco attended Mighty God Christian Academy at 6740 S. South Shore Dr. When she stopped at Francisco's school Tuesday, Andrea Parker allegedly left her gun unsecured in the glove box, Daly said.
When his grandmother went inside to get Francisco, Jaylen - who plays with toy guns at home - climbed over the seat and found the gun, his mother said. "He was curious," LaToyia Parker said. "He thought it was a toy and shot himself in the mouth."
When Andrea Parker returned to her car, she saw her grandson bleeding and rushed him into the school for help, LaToyia Parker said.
LaToyia Parker, 27, said her son had just celebrated his birthday Jan. 6, and a family party was planned. He loved action figures - especially Spider-Man - and never walked, she said. He was always running.
Parker, who works full time as a nurse and lives with her fiance in the 6700 block of Oglesby, said her mother watched her grandchildren every afternoon for her. She said her mother always trigger-locked her gun and removed the bullets.
But on Tuesday, her mother forgot to take those precautions, LaToyia Parker said.
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Corrections officer charged after 6-yr.-old grandson shoots self